A CALIFORNIA COUP
 
by Peter C. Mackeonis
 
    A CALIFORNIA COUP by Peter Mackeonis    
 

  

Sample Pages 292-294 

 

     When Magda returned some hours later to check on Amrit, he was smiling at a piece in that morning's International Herald Tribune's 'OVERHEARD' column.

 

CALIFORNIA 20/20 
A New Vision For A New Decade

A source familiar with Sacramento has told us that the governor is preparing a bill to increase taxes to fund free health, state-of-the-art housing and entertainment services to the state's homeless, the unemployed and the undocumented immigrants. The governor is quoted as saying, 'How could a state with three trillion-dollar companies and hundreds of billionaires not support this initiative?'

 

     "I also saw that article, and it sounded strangely familiar," Magda volunteered as she arranged fresh flowers on his bedside table, continuing, "Last year there was a gathering of international businessmen in town. One of them suffered a mild heart attack, and he was brought here for treatment. His name was an obvious alias, though I do not remember it, as were those who visited him, and no one was allowed on this floor without special permission. A private nurse was flown in from somewhere, and that seldom happens. Anyway, his alarm was triggered the second day he was here, and, as his own nurse was nowhere to be found, I took the decision to go to his room.

      He seemed not to be in danger, just flustered and disoriented, so I sat and chatted with him for a while. He asked me,what I liked most about living in a progressive socialist country? When he saw that I found the question amusing, he made a number of oblique references to the Kennedy brothers and Cuba; references that I knew to be far in the past, suggesting to me that he had a break with reality.

     Then, when he realized that I did understand what he was talking about, he reached into his briefcase and took a well-worn document out of a folder.

     'THIS, this is what I'm talking about, and he all but pushed a document at me.

 

The Revised Constitution of the United States of America
  Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness, 

       It made for such bizarre reading, I assumed that he was a movie producer, so I sat for a few minutes and read it just to be polite. It had the basic premise that robot workers and high birth rates would call for society to be deconstructed and then reconstructed along strict guidelines according to usefulness.

     It outlined the two-generation gestation period, with the initial step of allowing the education system to devolve, into those who wished to learn and those who did not, or would not. This allowed society to naturally stream itself over time, with only the naturally intelligent rising. Social challenges would also be introduced to stream people, with food and drinks made to be unhealthy and addictive, again allowing the intelligent to stream themselves into healthier patterns. Previously considered dangerous drugs would be legalized; first marijuana, then mushrooms and then finally heroin, again sorting the strong from the weak. Then, as robots began to dominate the workplace, as they'd have been developing through the decades, unemployment and homelessness would rise, and millions of units of totally free social housing would have been slowly commissioned to house those incapable of contributing to society. The wealthy would be highly taxed, as would the residual workforce, for the benefit of those unemployed. The robots would produce goods for next to nothing, which would maintain the albeit, reduced consumer society. Leisure and the pursuit of happiness would be the order of the day."

     Amrit, now smiling, found it difficult to contain his amusement, "But where was the support for this insane proposal?"

     "No names were mentioned, but California had been chosen as the pilot location," Magda replied, and she continued, "He told me that this was seen as the only way to give the people that were sensible, but still had nothing to offer society, the chance to enjoy life. The free corporate-funded social housing would be more economic than companies employing people that were not needed, and the state would no longer need to pay commercial landlords. And free access to drugs would decimate the illegal drug business and overall the State would be happier."

     "So where's the catch and how is all this to be paid for?" asked Amrit, intrigued by this bizarre variation of government.

     "No catch. The state was to purchase what the people needed, with the taxes that the companies paid, and there would be enough income for free services and even a stipend to live on. As the technology developed, the corporations were to monitor the behavior of those being taken care of, almost wards of the state, and constant surveys would be carried out to help improve their lives and the products they used. The idea was to maintain a stable consumer market, to validate and maintain profitable production.

     "And they thought that the people would be free to pursue happiness," Amrit said with sarcasm.

     "Exactly. Although to me it sounded worse than the old Soviet Union, as I would have thought that the reality would more likely be that those with little drive, and even less education, would spend most of their time in their apartments drinking and watching television."

     Amrit thought for a moment.

     "So it's Edward Bernays' hyper-consumerism taken to its logical conclusion: produce to consume, to consume to produce?"

     "Who?" Asked Magda.

     Amrit smiled as he went into teaching mode.

     "Bernays was a nephew of Sigmund Freud, the psychologist, and he was considered the father of consumerism. He originated the concept of people wanting, not needing, to create a stronger economy. You should read up on him, as he explains that for a manufacturing society to exist it needs consumers, as well as, producers. And the more the society produces, the more the consumers are needed; add in credit cards, like the banks did in 1950 and a huge portion of society becomes hamsters on wheels. And, with electronic banking, people never see cash anymore, so they get used to carrying debt."

     Magda wasn't sure that the hamster analogy was accurate and surprised Amrit with her comeback.

     "From what I've read online, that man's group hasn't been the only one with ideas on how to manipulate the future, because there's a conspiracy website that predicts that California, because of massive unemployment and uncontrolled immigration, is to become America's first socialist state.

     Amrit was taken aback by the way this provincial thirty-something nurse calmly, and in perfect English, expressed what in a way, it all made perfect sense. It was the logical extension of California blindly just benefiting the few. His head was bursting, and he wasn't sure how much more he could listen to, when he was saved by a knock on the door that preceded Anna and Douglas bearing flowers and chocolates.

     Magda knew to leave, but she left with the words, "I know that Californian politicians are crazy, but this is extreme, even for them. Thank God Switzerland is so balanced."

     "What was all that about?" asked Anna.

     "Thank God you're here," Amrit replied, also invoking of the mighty one. "I have just had the craziest conversation with my nurse. It seems that back in the 60's, maniacal businessmen and politicians wanted to use California as a massive petrie dish, to install a socialist paradise. But what really disturbed me was having that conversation having just read this. And he pointed down at 'CALIFORNIA 20/20.'"

     Douglas laughed, "That's some welcome, Amrit," and Anna added, "It's good to see that you're not only alive, but as opinionated as ever. You had everyone worried."

     But Amrit was not laughing, and he all but repeated Magda's performance, ending with, "She didn't know I was one of those crazy Californians - if only a transplant. But from the conversation, and what I just read about CALIFORNIA 20/20, I really think we've reached the next level of Man; Homus Insignificus."

 

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